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New year, new quarantine rules

New year, new quarantine rules

On the off-chance that you have not heard of the brand new quarantine rules, which came into force today, here is a run-through of everything you need to know.

The COVID-19 positive and those living in the same house

Let us begin with those who have unfortunately tested positive for the virus, and those living in the same house as them. According to the new rules, both must self-isolate for 10 full days, as opposed to 14 days. However, there are some conditions attached.

COVID-19 positive people and those living in the same house can self-isolate for only 10 days so long as they are over the age of 18 and in full possession of a valid vaccine certificate, including a booster dose. The date of the booster dose must be 14 days or more prior to the release date.

For children under 18, they must be in possession of a valid vaccine certificate, with full primary schedule of vaccination with two doses.

If the above conditions are met, and both the COVID-19 positive person and their household contacts are symptom-free for at least three days prior to the end of the 10 days, they are free to leave the house. If symtoms persist, it is recommended that they remain in self-isolation until 24 hours after symptoms go away. Those living in the same household cannot leave the house before the COVID-19 positive case is released.

These rules also apply to those who are positive, as well as their household contacts, who have been in self-isolation before today.

The isolation rules include details on the period of isolation that is required and therefore, no quarantine release letter will be issued by Public Health for COVID-19 positive people and their household contacts to be released.

The close primary contacts

Primary contacts refer to those who are at risk of developing COVID-19 as a result of significant exposure to a positive case during their infectious period. This implies that the person spent significant time with the person face-to-face at short distances, shared an enclosed space for extended periods of time or had physical contact.

As of August 2021, the policy for primary contacts was that they were eligible for early release from quarantine of seven days, provided that they undergo testing with a Rapid test or PCR test, which could be done at any registered testing centre and it results in a ‘non-reactive’, negative test. This is still applicable, provided that primary contacts have a valid vaccination certificate, including two doses or two doses and a booster).

Even after the test is performed, vaccinated primary contacts must stay in self-isolation until they receive a negative test result. The quarantine period ends on the 7th day at midnight. However, the same rules regarding vaccination certificates, as seen above, apply here too.

For those who would rather not get a test on the 7th day, they can leave the house on the 10th day at midnight post-exposure, provided that they are fully vaccinated.

The Secondary contacts

As of today, household members of close, primary contacts, which are also called secondary contacts, are eligible for exemption from self-isolation. As you may expect, there are some rules here, too.

In order to be exempt from quarantine as a secondary contact, one must be over 18 and in possession of a valid vaccine certificate with a booster, with the date of the latter being 14 days or more prior to the release date. If under 18, they must have a valid vaccine certificate with two doses, with the date of the second dose being 14 day or more prior to the release date.

It is also crucial that the secondary contacts have no symptoms related to COVID-19 and have not become a primary contact of a confirmed case, and have not tested positive themselves.

Those who do not meet the criteria listed above must self-isolate, together with the primary contact until the primary contact is released.

The non-vaccinated

For those who are not vaccinated, whether COVID-19 positive, or primary contacts, they are to remain in quarantine for a full 14 days. This policy change too applies to those primary contacts who were in self-isolation before today.

Public Health will continue to enforce these rules and regulations and if anyone is found to have broken the regulations, fines will be issued.

The travellers

In spite of new rules, regulations and policies, the self-isolation period related to travel is still 14 days as of arrival to Malta, for those aged 12 and over, who are not in possession of a valid vaccine certificate, as well as for those who are authorised to travel to Malta from a dark red zone.

In all cases, anyone in the same household with a person who returned from travelling and is required to quarantine, will be subject to self-isolation for the same period of time, even if they are vaccinated.

What do you think of the new rules?

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